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Thread: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

  1. #11

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    truly helpful to fine-tune some masking tricks before exposing that stash of CDU you got ahold of, unless you've gotten good at an alternative flashing technique.
    I was not considering masking for CDU-II, but now that you say it... it can be a good idea. Sadly CDU is no longer available, so that frozen stash is a last chance...

  2. #12
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    For B&W masking I get the best result exposing with pure blue light when masking through greenish-yellow stain typical of PMK, my routine dev. I'd imagine the brownish-green stain of pyrocat would behave similarly, but only masked one of those once as I recall. Normal contrast Ortho film would probably be analogous, since it's generally more sensitive to blue than to green; but any specific brand of it has only been intermittently available here, whereas FP4 and TMax are routinely available, have very predictable batch to batch performance, work for color masking too, and can be used for general shooting as well. Thin high contrast Ortho-Litho film is used by some with very dilute developers for contrast masking just because its cheap; but getting precise results with it is a crap shoot. It has long been used for highlight masking instead, at full contrast.

  3. #13

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    If I have a need for masking today I would use X-ray film. In Particular Carestream EB/RA. It is available only in 8x10 but is the easiest for most people to use because not only is it true orthochromatic, but it is single sided with a notch code thus not quite as susceptible to scratches as those films which are double sided. It is much cheaper than Panchromatic films and is available from Z&Z Medical. My second choice would be lith film from Freestyle which is even cheaper.

  4. #14

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Thin high contrast Ortho-Litho film is used by some with very dilute developers for contrast masking just because its cheap; but getting precise results with it is a crap shoot.
    Totally agree. While back was able to acquire a number of boxes of 11x14" film at a state surplus store. Getting repeatable consistent results was hard enough, but then just when I thought I had gotten there, opened up a second box and, even though the boxes were labeled and dated the same, my results were inconsistent. Ended up (and still do) using the film for testing the coverage and sharpness of my lenses. Prefer it to using X-Ray film for this purpose.

  5. #15
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    As one potentially seeks to acquire more advanced masking skills requiring serial exposures, that is, one sheet of masking film behaving in exact relation to yet another, perhaps even in multiples, hitting one fly ball after another with an unpredictable film isn't going to get you very far without frustration. Same with off-brand or surplus discount films. Arista (Freestyle) lith film is a high quality product for what it was originally designed for. With considerable headaches, one can make so-so enlarged negs with it. I've personally done that way better than the cult advocates of continuous tone applications of this film, and still found it a poor choice for con tone work. They do so because its cheap, draws well under a vac blanket due to its textured surface, and is available in big sizes. In other words, it makes sense in certain ways. But it's useless for color masking, and more trouble than it's worth doing quality b&w masking. Is time of any value to you? You can surmise what you might hypothetically do, Jim, and that's fair game; but I actually do it, over and over and over again.

  6. #16

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Drew, I fully expected (and hoped) you'd chime in here and provide the benefit of your expertise, and you have not disappointed. I think you answered my question in your very first sentence; it depends. So experience seems to be the answer. I suppose I should've provided more details of where I'm at on this topic to hopefully contain the comments specific to my question. To that end, I provide this list:
    1. B&W only darkroom printing with VC paper.
    2. Original negatives will be 4x5 and 5x7.
    3. For now, I’m only interested in unsharp masks to enhance edge effects and tonality in the shadows (and maybe over the entire image if that works out).
    4. Enlarger is Omega E6 5x7 diffusion with tall column (that I’ve converted to LED - you may recall my lengthy post describing those details ( FWIW https://www.largeformatphotography.i...5x7-E6-LED-Mod ). All my LF lenses are Componons (not S) – 135/150/210mm, vintage ~1970.
    5. My interest in this subject resulted from the chapter on unsharp masks in Way Beyond Monochrome 2nd Ed. (call it WBM2) by Ralph Lambrecht and found that his concept illustrations indicated the original negative would have punched registration holes in them, which I definitely do not want to do. Then I delved into Lynn Radeka’s website and saw that he suggested using rubylith tape to attach a strip of scrap film abutting the rebate of the original negative and punching the scrap (I have plenty of that ), which avoids punching the original; this seemed a bit flaky to me but worth a try. His updated website ( http://www.radekaphotography.com/carriers.htm ) no longer mentions the tape method, but he has all along stated that the system he sells does somehow avoid punching the original. However, his system does not offer a 5x7 version (which I’d want). I also found John Sexton’s step-by-step instructions for going through the initial testing to establish the setup and procedure. After all this I decided to attempt making my own setup, using the tape + scrap.
    6. Lynn clarified via email how I could neglect certain parts of his system when making my own, since I’m only interested in unsharp masking.
    7. I’ve gone ahead and acquired the clear glass and AN glass from Mike at focalpoint.com, ¾”-wide ruby tape, diffusion material (frosted one side only), and had Ternes Burton Co. make me a registration pin bar to match some punched samples from my existing punch (pins close to ¼” diameter). The fit is excellent. I’ve spent a good amount of time designing my setup to ensure the format center is kept on the lens axis. I’m about to begin the assembly.
    8. I plan to start with FP4 and HC-110 dev for the mask per Sexton.

  7. #17
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    I personally use the Condit micro-pin system, though I also have a 20 inch Ternes Burton punch & register; they're a good company. HC-110 is excellent. I use it 1:31 from stock, not concentrate. Stock is 1:3 from concentrate. But I add around 10ml per liter of 1% benzotriazole (a very small amount) to act as a toe-cutter. To start out, aim for around .30 maximum mask density above fbf. If it comes out a bit too dense, or you want to clear some fbf, just give it about a minute or less in Farmers Reducer in a tray. Use thin mylar tape because it's dimensionally stable. For diffusion sheet, I recommend 7-mil mylar frosted both sides. Single side frosted might give you some Newton ring issues; but you can try it. Don't use frosted acetate; it leaves a visible pattern. Just take it a step at a time. When you tape the two films together, you'll need some means or weight to hold them down perfectly flat in relation to one another.

  8. #18

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Useful info, Drew. Thanks.

  9. #19

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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I personally use the Condit micro-pin system, though I also have a 20 inch Ternes Burton punch & register; they're a good company. HC-110 is excellent. I use it 1:31 from stock, not concentrate. Stock is 1:3 from concentrate. But I add around 10ml per liter of 1% benzotriazole (a very small amount) to act as a toe-cutter. To start out, aim for around .30 maximum mask density above fbf. If it comes out a bit too dense, or you want to clear some fbf, just give it about a minute or less in Farmers Reducer in a tray. Use thin mylar tape because it's dimensionally stable. For diffusion sheet, I recommend 7-mil mylar frosted both sides. Single side frosted might give you some Newton ring issues; but you can try it. Don't use frosted acetate; it leaves a visible pattern. Just take it a step at a time. When you tape the two films together, you'll need some means or weight to hold them down perfectly flat in relation to one another.
    A good and useful summary.



    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I add around 10ml per liter of 1% benzotriazole (a very small amount) to act as a toe-cutter.
    I guess than in practice this "extends" the paper toe to better print highlights, like if we had a more shouldered film.

    aiming "around .30 maximum mask density above fbf" and using a toe-cutter... IMHO it would make a linear film behave a bit like a shouldered film, as the density difference in the highlights may be around that .30D
    Last edited by Pere Casals; 21-Sep-2019 at 03:43.

  10. #20
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Unsharp Masks - When Not Worth the Effort

    Just the opposite, Pere. What a "toe cutter" does is exactly that - counteract tendency to a toe formation in the mask itself, so that you get an especially long straight line at low gamma, where this is ordinarily difficult to achieve. The toe-cutter is optional. How printing highlights are affected all depends, but I wouldn't overthink it. If you want to induce a shoulder effect in the combined film printing sandwich, then you can always make a stronger mask. But with simple contrast masking of b&w negs, you have to be careful of too much mask density muddying up the deepest shadows. There's a cure for that; but I want to keep things simple here. l already mentioned my strategy for pyro stained originals using blue light mask exposure. But I recommend experimenting to find what works best for you. If you want an upswept curve to your mask instead, with a long toe, then use somewhat dilute D76 instead of HC110. Dealing with the slight residual magenta stain of FP4, leftover antihalation dye that doesn't get fully washed out, is a minor problem because it's consistent over the entire mask. It slowly fades; but strong UV can accelerate that. It generally amounts to only around .04 density anyway.

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